Membership Declines Continue

The Christian Post reports:
"After years of continuous growth, membership in the Roman Catholic Church dropped by 0.59 percent and the Southern Baptist Convention decreased by 0.24 percent, according to the 2009 edition of the Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches, published this week. Although the percentage losses are small compared to the total membership of the churches, the yearbook pointed out that the two communions had "grown dependably" over the years and "now they join virtually every mainline church in reporting a membership decline." Other denominations that reported membership losses include ...the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (down 1.44 percent)..."
The editor of the Yearbook says: "There are no clear-cut theological or sociological reasons for church growth or decline."

Oh, really? I guess the effect of family planning (shown here) just kind of slips under the radar screen of most people's thinking. In 1961 LCMS members were reproducing at above the replacement fertility rate: we had 82,248 infant baptisms that year. In 2004, with the same number of overall membership reproduction had declined 60%, reflected by just 32,851 infant baptisms that year. Rev. Terry K. Dittmer, LCMS Director of Youth Ministry, pointed out: "At this time, the average age of an LCMS member is 62. We’re not having children. In that time, our youth population has shifted from 198,000 in 1980 to 102,000 in 2007 based on confirmation statistics."
No clear-cut theological or sociological reasons for the reported decline in membership?

I beg to differ.


Tim said...

You're not as funny as Mark Steyn, Erich, but both of you point us to some important numbers. Facts. Demographics.


More than one has already written here about the reasons why family planning "slips under the radar screen of most people's thinking."

Lord, have mercy.

Untamed Shrew said...

I was just on a MO-synod church website that addresed at least 50 topics--everything from body piercing and tattoos to Harry Potter to Mary's perpetual virginity to working mothers. Birth control was no where to be found. I'm embarassed that we as a church body are so spineless, failing to address the white elephant for fear of someone disagreeing with us.

Bruce Gee said...

Not sure how spineless it has been. I think there have been fights about this in a lot of Mo churches over the years, but after awhile, it becomes clear that Lutherans are hell-bent on being in the world and of the world. I stopped bringing it up because of the deafening silence with which my comments and criticism were met--by PASTORS. "The pill as an abortifient? Lalalala, I'm not listening. "
When these people found out we were using natural family planning techniques endorsed and taught by Catholics, well. End of discussion. We were clearly deluded.